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Friday 15th June 2007

Can I borrow a Veyron again, please?

We all know it's good, but just how good is the Veyron on a proper road. Steve Sutcliffe gives a personal view on Bugatti's monster - second time around.


This story ran for a period of hours on the site a few weeks ago, but was withdrawn for embargo reasons. If you didn't get the chance to read it then, here you go... AT, Editor

You won't see a Veyron doing this too often...
You won't see a Veyron doing this too often...
Don’t ask why or how but back in October 2005 I was one of the fortunate few to be invited to Sicily to drive the Bugatti Veyron. It was the first time any one outside the factory had been allowed behind the wheel of the mighty Veyron. What’s more, Bugatti’s brass made sure the local feds would turn a blind eye to our antics. They paid them to ignore us, basically, and in true Sicilian style they accepted. Which was nice.

I came away from those two days ever so slightly numbed by what the Veyron could do, but also confused. It was so much faster than any other road car I’d ever driven (including a McLaren F1 and Porsche 911 GT1) I found it hard to put the whole thing into context. The Veyron was mind-bending in its ability to go from over here to over there in the blink of an eye. Even after driving Audi’s R8 Le Mans racer around Magny Cours and Jaguar’s R3 F1 car around Barcelona, it felt bonkers fast.

Veyron shrinks down on tight roads
Veyron shrinks down on tight roads
And never more so than beyond three figures – which is when most fast cars start to fade a little. Not the Veyron. It felt as punchy when I put my foot down at 120mph as a Porsche 911 does when you dump the clutch from a standstill. Genuinely I’m not kidding when I say this.

And yet…there was something odd about the Veyron that left me cold on that first experience in Sicily. It was so accomplished at everything it did it felt curiously devoid of emotion or personality. Despite it being the fastest production road car in history and the ultimate technical creation, I wasn’t as gripped by it as I should have been.

So it was with an open mind – and a very big grin – that I greeted a man from Bugatti a couple of weeks ago, shortly before he handed me the keys to a second Veyron to try. This one was made available from the factory at Molsheim near the French/German border, i.e. near roads that would be much more interesting to drive on than the lumpen autostradas of Sicily. Intriguingly, my wheels that week happened to be a 911 GT3 RS. Surely that would offer some challenge to the Bugatti on the twisting and turning French roads. Wouldn’t it?

Veyron redefines road car performance
Veyron redefines road car performance
During my second 24 hours with the Veyron my opinion shifted – very much for the good – with every extra mile I drove it. Although the fundamental size and style of its performance remained as unfathomable as ever, it was the rest of the car that blew me away. Its agility over tight and twisty mountain roads; its unbelievably incisive steering and traction; its knack of shrinking around you even on narrow single carriageway roads; its extraordinarily sharp seven-speed DSG gearbox; and most of all its ability to drop a well driven 997 GT3 RS on a sinewy mountain road – as if the Porsche were being driven by a blind person.

That was what amazed me more than anything about the Veyron, second time around – its pure speed across the ground, even when that ground was narrow and twisty and not the sort of terrain you’d expect a two metre wide, 1900kg, 1000bhp monster to work well upon. One particular “dice” with the 997 will stick in my mind for a very long time, mainly because it was me who was driving the Porsche, watching the Bugatti.

Where's that GT3 gone? Steve 'adjusts' his opinion
Where's that GT3 gone? Steve 'adjusts' his opinion
To begin with I was in front, doing my best to drive the door-handles off the Porsche just to stay ahead. It was almost dusk and I could see the Veyron’s headlights aglow, dancing around in the rear view mirror. I’m not sure why but you can tell from the body language of a car’s headlights whether its driver is trying or not; if they shudder and flash from time to time you know they’re on it. If they don’t you know they’re not. You know they’re just sitting there, watching you, watching them. And at that point you know you’re in trouble.

The Veyron’s lights didn’t move so much as a millimetre as I drove that GT3 RS down the mountain. So I knew its driver was sitting there, waiting, wondering whether I was trying or not. It got to the point where I didn’t want to drive the Porsche any harder, not on the public road. And then a shortish straight appeared and the Veyron blew by me like I was standing still.

The noise it made as it did so was extraordinary, a manic blend of thunderous exhaust bellow intertwined with a whole range of whistles and fizzes from the four turbos and their collective wastegates. For the next 30sec or so the road got twistier again and, for a while, I could keep the Bugatti in sight.

Stay clear of these, if you're a fly...
Stay clear of these, if you're a fly...
It looked so calm, so composed, so serene as it braked, turned in and then erupted down the next straight. No dive under brakes, no pitch through the corners, no perceptible squat under acceleration. It looked genuinely as if it were being guided by a higher force, glued to the road, locked into the far horizon.

And then it was gone. So far away that I could no longer see it, even at the end of the longest straights. In no more than a minute it had caught, passed and blown me and the GT3 RS into the undergrowth.

I was wrong about the Veyron first time round; I don’t mind admitting that now. It does have soul, it does have emotion, and it certainly isn’t short on personality. But the first time I drove it the roads were all wrong, and the Veyron’s character failed to emerge. Now I’ve driven it again and seen what it can do to a 997 GT3 RS over a difficult road, well, it’s hard to express how good a car I think the mighty Veyron is.

Better than a McLaren F1? Without a single shadow of a doubt. And it doesn’t get any better than that.

You wish it was yours, Sutters...
You wish it was yours, Sutters...
Incredible power lurks within here
Incredible power lurks within here

From now on, PH writers will be listing their motoring credentials. First in the ex-mastermind, tatty leather armchair is…

About your author: Steve Sutcliffe, UK

Can you list your motoring journalism experience please?
1988; road test assistant for What Car?
1991; road test editor for What Car? (won Jet Media young journalist of the year 1992)
1993; deputy road test editor for Autocar
1996; road test editor for Autocar
2000; motoring editor for Autocar
2003; editor Autocar
2004 to present; editor at large for Autocar

How about any other car/driving etc experience that is relevant?
Three seasons as a works driver in TVR Tuscan Challenge (1998, 1999, 2000; 12 podiums, 2 poles and 3 race wins in 2000).
BTCC with Lexus in 2001; took class pole at 2000 Nurburgring 24h; raced for Ford junior DTM team at 2002 Nurburgring 24h. 2nd in first ever race – Caterham road sports.
Driven and road tested the following road cars for Autocar; McLaren F1, Jaguar XJ220, Jaguar XJ220 C, Porsche 911 GT1, Ferrari F40, Bugatti Veyron, to name just a few.
Driven and track tested the following competition cars for Autocar & Autosport; Toyota Corolla WRC, Ford focus WRC, Audi R8 Le Mans wining car, Jaguar R3 F1 car, Tyrrell 005 F1 car, Porsche 911 GT1 Le Mans winner, BMW M3 GTR race car.   

Fair enough. What are the best/most enjoyable/most memorable three cars you've driven?
Ferrari F40 (no.1); McLaren F1 (2), Bugatti Veyron (3)

Supercar central. Ok, what's the worst car you've driven?
Mahindra Indian Chief

Hmmm. What 3 cars are in your fantasy garage?
F40, F40, F40

Isn’t that just greedy to want three of them Sutters? What cars do you own/run now?
BMW Alpina D3, Renault Megane R26, Citroen ZXD Avantage


Who are your motoring heroes?
Colin Chapman, Ayrton Senna & Keith Duckworth.

Inspired choices. And finally, who in motoring would get your red card?
Richard Brunstrom

“And Brunstrom has been sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Team Motoring’s centre forward!” Cheers Steve.

sutters
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Author Discussion

waynepixel

Original Poster:

3,842 posts

112 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
Fantastic review, and yes I think it is better then the Mc F1.

RobPhoboS

3,434 posts

114 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
Next time you take one out, PLEASE CONVERT ME TOO !

Im still just not a fan of this car in any way whatsoever, even if you have written a good article.

I just can't get behind a Veyron.

rimmer

6,662 posts

94 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
great review and its good to see it was put into context by testing it again a 911 gt3 rs.

RobPhoboS

3,434 posts

114 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
How do these double threads appear?

I guess if the Veyron looked better I would be in awe of it a HELL of a lot more.
Looks like an Audi TT.

deevlash

10,442 posts

125 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
ooh sutcliffe on ph, shame the car looks like a slug though.
Advertisement

infradig

976 posts

95 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
I hope Steve Sutcliffe paid for the ad for his 'investment number plate',that said great article truly puts the performance in context with GT3 reference.

bad_roo

5,168 posts

125 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
I'm still slightly dazed by the fact that somebody would attempt to keep up with a 911 GT3 RS on twisty roads in a car that costs as much as the Veyron. A Bugatti employee I could possibly understand but it would be a brave journo who jumped into the hot seat and gave it ten tenths (or even eight tenths). Crashing one of those would hang around your neck for a while.

infradig

976 posts

95 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
Maybe it was the owner driving,werent all journos only allowed accompanied drives? Either way it gladdens my heart to think that at least one Veyron is being used to humble GT3's.The blue one on the M1 last Friday morning cruising at 50 through the j10 roadworks looked like a caged lion!

angrys3owner

15,831 posts

117 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
Jesus, I've always really liked the Veyron but that makes it jump to the top of the lottery win list, just past the koeingsegg CCX now! hehe

yes, yes I'll keep dreaming!

val

199 posts

122 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
Yeah right...

Put a proper driver in GT3 and it will spank this journo-boy so hard he'll cry for his mommy.

2 tonne car cant be a sports car by the laws of physics.

Fat Audi 80

2,402 posts

139 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
val said:
Yeah right...

Put a proper driver in GT3 and it will spank this journo-boy so hard he'll cry for his mommy.

2 tonne car cant be a sports car by the laws of physics.


rolleyes

And you still don't get it...

The Veyron is on a different planet.

Cheers,

Steve.

angrys3owner

15,831 posts

117 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
val said:
Yeah right...

Put a proper driver in GT3 and it will spank this journo-boy so hard he'll cry for his mommy.

2 tonne car cant be a sports car by the laws of physics.


I want to just say tt, but that's rude, if you're on about weight being a problem, how about getting the porka to loose some lard?

edited to add - as i wasn't very eloquent, if the article is to be believed, the driver is irrelevant as they swapped over?

Edited by angrys3owner on Friday 18th May 23:40

deevlash

10,442 posts

125 months

[news] 
Friday 18th May 2007 quote quote all
val said:
Yeah right...

Put a proper driver in GT3 and it will spank this journo-boy so hard he'll cry for his mommy.

2 tonne car cant be a sports car by the laws of physics.

Proper driver? That journo-boy has tested for the Jag F1 team I think you'll find and was only around 5 seconds a lap off the pace of the regular drivers, Pizzonia and Webber.

markomah

602 posts

107 months

[news] 
Saturday 19th May 2007 quote quote all
Great article - made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. clap

Lottery ticket will be purchased tomorrow.

dvs_dave

4,089 posts

113 months

[news] 
Saturday 19th May 2007 quote quote all
val said:
Yeah right...

Put a proper driver in GT3 and it will spank this journo-boy so hard he'll cry for his mommy.

2 tonne car cant be a sports car by the laws of physics.

rolleyes Looking at your cars its hardly a suprise you said that. Would you like to satisfy any more stereotypes?

ed.

1,206 posts

126 months

[news] 
Saturday 19th May 2007 quote quote all
val said:
Yeah right...

Put a proper driver in GT3 and it will spank this journo-boy so hard he'll cry for his mommy.

2 tonne car cant be a sports car by the laws of physics.


A certain Top Gear episode involving a well known hypnotist and a Hamster comes to mind

L100NYY

30,167 posts

131 months

[news] 
Saturday 19th May 2007 quote quote all
That was a truly inciteful lil' article thumbup

I think that is the first Veryron article that I have read where I can truly start to appreciate just how impressive the Bug' is.

Good work Steve.

cramorra

1,341 posts

123 months

[news] 
Saturday 19th May 2007 quote quote all
bad_roo said:
I'm still slightly dazed by the fact that somebody would attempt to keep up with a 911 GT3 RS on twisty roads in a car that costs as much as the Veyron. A Bugatti employee I could possibly understand but it would be a brave journo who jumped into the hot seat and gave it ten tenths (or even eight tenths). Crashing one of those would hang around your neck for a while.

I am still impressed thumbup that some of these cars are used to what they were ment to- always sad to see these things collecting dust in a museum or be driven around town to impress the "boys" in the club.
They are ment to be taken out in the open IMHO- and yes there is a risk to crash them (don´t want to think about the next insurance quote, though), but most owners play in a league where they probably own an insurance company anyway hehe,
Well done, changed my mind about the car - always thought it is is perfect but soulless, a bit like the guy who created it (E. Piech)- if not created himsself then forced its creation...


Edited by cramorra on Saturday 19th May 10:51

kingb

950 posts

114 months

[news] 
Saturday 19th May 2007 quote quote all
thats the first review i have read that where they actually came away liking the car
everyone come away impressed but ive not hear anyone actually loving it - which is exactly how i think id be

Hazza911

9 posts

97 months

[news] 
Saturday 19th May 2007 quote quote all
The Bugatti is quite simply amazing...

... but to compare it to a car 1/8 of its cost and with 600bhp less and say the GT3 RS "fell behind quite quickly" is hardly surprising!! rolleyes

Its like comparing a well driven VW Polo 1.4 against a BMW M5!

My point is that when reviewing a car as amazing and one off as this... nothing should be compared to it until a manufacturer creates a car that has similar power output/weight etc.

The Mclaren F1 should be immune to comparison because it is now over a decade old and a king in its own right! clap
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